"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27, NKJV).*
My very earliest memory is of being caught up from behind by warm, strong arms just before I stepped into a busy roadway. And many years later it happened again.
I was 2, and was at my grandparents’ home. Their house was situated on a small hill, below which ran the main highway through town. That day I darted away from them somehow, as 2-year-olds are wont to do, and dashed down the hill headed straight for the most dangerous section of road in the area.
I distinctly remember stumbling—but not falling—as I ran, and feeling giddy from the freedom and movement and wonder. I saw the road, mentally registered that there were cars, and kept going. That was when I was delivered.
Someone a lot bigger, faster, and smarter than I caught up with me and swept me up into the air and against his chest just as my foot was poised above the asphalt and I was ready to descend into that first perilous step onto the road. It was Grandpa. He hugged me tightly and moved us both back out of harm’s way. Then he took me home.
It wasn’t until I was very much older that I realized that my life had been spared, spared by someone who loved me and had placed his own life in jeopardy to save mine. Someone who was watching over me.
At age 35 I repeated the experience, but this time I knew what I was doing. I willfully and purposely stepped out into the heavy traffic of life and began darting and dodging. It was both painful and exhilarating at once, and it lasted for nearly 20 years. I chose my own dreadful and dangerous path and insisted on keeping to it. There was, however—as I now have reason to know for certain—a constant and steady Presence within arm’s reach at all times, a Presence I knew about but did not know personally. It was a Presence whose footsteps were occasionally audible even above the sound of the largest and noisiest of vehicles pelting by, a Presence waiting for just the right moment to snatch me up to safety. This was a Presence that loved me, was watching over me.
For two decades I fled the Presence, but then I looked His way. It only took a glance in His direction, my back still turned, rush hour racing by. A glance, and He was there, smiling, just behind me. A glance, and I was in His arms feeling His heart beat against my cheek. Just like that. Only a glance, and He had me partway home and looking forward to the rest of the trip.
Jesus carries me now. He has to; I can’t manage the passage on my own. I’m off the speedway, but still there’s danger. Jesus has a strong, sure hold on me that feels very much the way my grandfather’s did. He’s my only safety, and He picked me up, as did Grandpa, before I knew I needed picking up. He holds and hugs me tightly.
Someday the two instruments of my salvation will meet: my grandpa and my Savior. I plan to be right there when they do, watching.
* Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Carolyn K. Karlstrom is a Bible worker for the Seventh-day Adventist Community Church in Vancouver, Washington. This article was published on November 17, 2011.